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Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

Tasha Fritz

Tesha Ruley

Iowa Department of Education Guidance

Overview of MTSS

Implementation of the Iowa MTSS framework should use the continuous school improvement process of (a) defining the problem, (b) diagnosing the problem, (c) developing a plan, (d) implementing the plan, and (e) evaluating the results of plan implementation. We use a ten-question framework to help schools engage in this process. Those ten questions are:

Universal Level

  1. Is our Universal program sufficient?
  2. If the Universal program is not sufficient, why isn’t it sufficient?
  3. How will needs identified in the Universal program be addressed?
  4. How will the sufficiency and effectiveness of the Universal program be monitored over time?
  5. Have improvements to the Universal program been effective?

Targeted and Intensive Levels

  1. For which students is Universal instruction sufficient and not sufficient, and why?
  2. What specific Targeted and Intensive instruction is needed?
  3. How will specific Targeted and Intensive instruction be delivered?
  4. How will the effectiveness of Targeted and Intensive instruction be monitored?
  5. Which students need to move to a different level of instruction?

This process helps educators think about their local needs within a data-based decision-making framework.


The following tools are available for ALL schools to examine their assessment and universal tier practices. If you have questions about using these tools in your building or district, please contact a member of your navigator team. 

Assessment System Protocol

Assessment System Facilitation Guide

Universal Instruction Protocol

Universal Instruction Facilitation Guide

Intensification Protocol

Intensification Guide